The 15th annual conference in 2003 featured Agricultural Technology, Biotechnology and the Environment. John Barrett, a Mathis, Texas, farmer, discussed a farmer’s perspective on biotechnology, and Dr. Norman Borlaug offered remarks on: “Biotechnology-Benefiting Agriculture.”

Also, Dr. Mack Gray, deputy undersecretary of agriculture, provided an assessment of the “Impact of Farm Programs.”

Peter Cotty, USDA-ARS, Tucson, Ariz., offered hope for aflatoxin management: “AF-36, a Biological Tool for Managing Aflatoxin.” He reported: “Atoxigenic strains (of aspergillus) competitively exclude aflatoxin producers and thereby reduce the vulnerability of crops to contamination.”

In 2004, the conference included numerous topics on bio-terrorism and agro-terrorism.

In 2007 Paul Baumann discussed a growing concern: “Weed Resistance in the Coastal Bend.” Water issues also were prominent in this session.

The 20th annual conference, 2008, focused attention on bio-fuels markets and water management strategies for drip irrigation and nitrogen requirements for GMO cotton.

Aflagard for aflatoxin management was a key topic for the 21st conference, indicating continuing progress toward managing what had been a decades-long economic issue for corn producers.

The economy was another growing concern as John Miller, Southwest Business Consultants, discussed the negative impact a strong dollar could have on ag commodities. “Uncertainty (brought about by changing ag fundamentals and price activity against the Dow Jones Industrial average, crude prices and the U.S. dollar) suggest that a better understanding of these relationships will help producers in the development and implementation of price risk management plans.”

John Robinson, Extension economist/cotton marketing, also discussed risk management.  He said: “2008 witnessed many influences, some very dramatic, on the risk exposure faced by Texas growers.” Influences included the rise and fall of outside market influences, including the speculative fund sector.

“An example is the extreme cotton and grain price volatility in the spring of 2008 followed by the tremendous deleveraging since July,” Robinson said. “A second influence has been surging input prices in late 2007 and early 2008. A third influence has been the change in farm policy, and the last is the general decline in demand resulting from world-wide recessionary forces.”